The 2023 Volvo XC-60 Recharge Is Volvo’s Secret Weapon

2023 Volvo XC-60 Recharge T8 AWD Ultimate

Price as tested: $91,075 CAD

Colour: Crystal White

Volvo has come a long way in the last couple of decades. When once they were a humble Scandinavian producer of safety-focused Euro boxes, they are now a global manufacturer of luxury European automobiles. While they buck some market trends by still making several wagons that nobody in North America (with the exception of yours truly) would actually buy, they have bowed to the pressure by producing an extensive line of SUV’s. Sitting in the middle of said lineup is the XC-60. Introduced in 2008 it took on the role of little cousin to the very successful XC-90. Since that introduction it has been Volvo’s best-selling vehicle. I’m not surprised as this is a beautiful, well-made and delightful automobile. There is a wrinkle however when you come to the PHEV Recharge version with all the bells and whistles, and that’s the $90,000 price tag… seriously, 90k. 

Power & Performance

The 2023 Volvo XC-60 Recharge features Volvo’s universal PHEV drivetrain that includes a 2.0L ICE powerplant attached to an additional electric drivetrain with a 18.8 kWh batter and sends it’s power to the wheels through an 8-speed “geartronic” automatic transmission. This is a potent mix that delivers 455 hp and 523 lb/ft of torque. It’s a lot of power in a vehicle this size and since a healthy percentage of it comes from an EV powerplant it hauls hard. There’s no delay when you put your foot down. The vehicle simply responds in a light Swedish accent “Ja Sir” and you’re off.

PHEV’s offer the benefit of electric drive without having to deal with the associated range anxiety common to EV ownership. Often times the all-electric range on PHEV’s is too small to be practically useful on a daily basis but the XC-60 is different. Volvo says you get 58kms of all-electric range. My experience revealed a real-world electric range of 50-55kms. That’s pretty good. It’s also useful as it covers most peoples daily commute. This is a nearly perfect balance rarely found in a PHEV.

Exterior

Pretty cars sell. Volvo figured this out about thirty years ago when they made the switch from shoe boxes to something akin to the beautiful shoes carried in the aforementioned box. The XC-60 is a huge part of the Volvo makeover as it’s an absolutely beautiful vehicle. The now signature Volvo grille is in fine form here and while the rear slopes lightly for that rakish “sporty” look everyone is going for these days it’s not over done. Few who take in the flowing lines and signature design features come away with anything other than a compliment.

Interior

Volvo interiors are wonderful, reserved and relatively sparse affairs. They don’t value shiny nonsense or the razzle dazzle of some of their competitors. It did strike me though that over the last year I’ve driven about half a dozen Volvo vehicles, and they all have the exactly same interior. Same steering wheel, same lovely Google Built-in, same trim pieces, same dash cluster… you get my point. I’m all for consistency but a little bit of variety would be appreciated.

Despite the sameness there are features that deserve noting. On all levels of the XC-60 you get a fabulous panoramic roof. How much use one gets out of an all-glass roof depends on the user but I’ve grown accustomed to them on multiple vehicles and I really do like them. The interior of this particular vehicle is a light cream color and the light allowed in by the roof combines to provide a really bright space inside. 

This test model has the optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo ($3750 CAD option) which sounds great. You get aluminum speaker grilles and little “Bowers & Wilkins” logos all over the place. You also get a little nub speaker right in the middle of the dash. It’s a curious bit of design for designs sake.

Many manufacturers prattle on about the quality of their leather. Some of it is very good (Hyundai) and others not so much (GM). Volvo is far more Hyundai than GM. The leather surfaces are soft and supple but don’t feel like they’re going to mark or peel in any way. While not the biggest fan of leather, this is a wonderful example of it. 

Quality

Volvo quality is almost universally top shelf. Other than some documented issues with the Google Built-in infotainment system, I hear few whispers of issues with Volvo product. The XC-60 is well-made and built solid.

CQI – 9. Great carpet. 

Value

Well, I guess we had to talk about it eventually. I like Volvos because they sit in the market in their own little spot. They don’t compete directly with the luxury brands but also reside well above the more everyday manufacturers. Their pricing typically reflects that. Volvos usually give you quite a bit of car for your money. The XC-60 is no different in most regards. Curiously, the test car I drove is an exception to this rule. As specified, this thing costs over $90,000 CAD. That’s a boatload of money. It’s far too much money if I’m honest. You can get into an XC-90 (base model of course) for those dollars and that’s a massive disparity to reconcile. All hope is not lost however as you can save yourself nearly 10k just by skipping the fancy suspension, stereo, wheels and massaging seats. It’s all nice stuff but the standard equipment is good as well. Choosing a well equipped mid-range model will keep the price point reasonable while still reaping the benefits of the Volvo experience.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoy the XC-60 as an automobile. I can see why it’s such a sales winner for Volvo. I think you could get a little spec happy when deciding what equipment to include on yours but if you keep that impulse under control, you’re going to get a sophisticated, smooth and polished vehicle. The PHEV system fitted to this one is an actual tool you could use and have the benefits they’re supposed to impart and you won’t be disappointed.

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